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Learn How to Get the Best Security Guard Education Learn about security guard education and job opportunities.

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Security Guards Protect People Like You

Security guards and surveillance officers protect property, maintain security, and enforce regulations and standards of conduct.

As a security guard, you may work in banks, hotels, hospitals, retail stores, restaurants, bars and schools, or for building-management companies and governments. Gaming surveillance officers work exclusively in casinos and other legal gaming facilities.

You will greatly benefit from earning a degree in criminal justice or security management if you aspire to any of the higher-paying jobs. While some people can get jobs without a formal degree, a security guard education is preferred by many of the top security firms.

Education Paths

While there are no academic requirements to become a security guard, a 2-year associate’s degree program or a 1-to-2 semester certificate program in a criminal justice-related area is helpful if you want to be a security guard or surveillance officer, or be promoted to a managerial position.

And you’ll have an easier time finding a job with some formal security guard education.

Here are just some of the types of education a security guard may undertake:

  • Surveillance officers receive schooling in a casino-like atmosphere using surveillance camera equipment.
  • Armed guards receive formal schooling in areas such as weapons retention (keeping your weapon safe during a physical attack), self defense, and the laws covering the use of force.
  • Security guards employed by the federal government must have some experience in the occupation, pass a written examination, and pass firearms and first aid tests to be certified by the U.S. General Services Administration.

Security Guard Certification and Licensing

Most states require that security guards be licensed. Requirements vary widely but in most states, applicants must be at least 18 years old, pass a background check and a drug test, and complete security guard classes in such subjects as property rights, emergency procedures, and detention of suspected criminals.

Median Annual Salary

Security Guards

National data

Median Salary: $31,470

Projected job growth: 3.4%

10th Percentile: $23,250

25th Percentile: $28,890

75th Percentile: $39,170

90th Percentile: $50,040

Projected job growth: 3.4%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $24,060 $18,170 $39,500
Alaska $39,620 $29,480 $99,790
Arizona $30,570 $28,900 $39,160
Arkansas $27,390 $22,900 $46,250
California $36,060 $30,070 $48,430
Colorado $36,590 $29,140 $47,110
Connecticut $35,140 $28,500 $49,140
Delaware $30,850 $24,260 $46,360
District of Columbia $50,110 $36,080 $77,410
Florida $28,820 $22,660 $38,090
Georgia $29,330 $17,800 $51,310
Hawaii $36,590 $27,740 $48,300
Idaho $31,430 $23,020 $77,900
Illinois $32,810 $27,930 $49,030
Indiana $30,570 $22,170 $54,570
Iowa $29,980 $22,670 $59,510
Kansas $28,910 $22,660 $46,210
Kentucky $27,320 $19,320 $37,440
Louisiana $28,560 $18,920 $47,530
Maine $31,200 $29,140 $46,070
Maryland $36,000 $28,750 $62,380
Massachusetts $38,370 $30,970 $49,300
Michigan $31,050 $23,620 $48,280
Minnesota $37,100 $28,520 $48,930
Mississippi $24,940 $18,040 $43,220
Missouri $30,850 $24,010 $61,830
Montana $30,660 $22,730 $43,090
Nebraska $30,850 $23,460 $49,600
Nevada $30,350 $20,210 $47,080
New Hampshire $34,350 $24,450 $62,440
New Jersey $31,430 $24,960 $49,620
New Mexico $28,910 $22,820 $46,540
New York $37,770 $29,260 $60,160
North Carolina $28,990 $22,760 $49,380
North Dakota $31,470 $23,000 $46,370
Ohio $29,080 $22,560 $49,860
Oklahoma $28,910 $22,310 $48,550
Oregon $30,850 $28,550 $47,350
Pennsylvania $29,860 $22,970 $45,220
Rhode Island $34,940 $28,400 $44,750
South Carolina $28,680 $21,750 $39,500
South Dakota $30,700 $24,550 $43,220
Tennessee $28,910 $19,660 $49,410
Texas $29,640 $21,850 $56,600
Utah $30,870 $23,850 $49,810
Vermont $33,350 $25,710 $48,930
Virginia $36,570 $24,060 $60,910
Washington $38,830 $31,430 $59,250
West Virginia $23,130 $20,910 $39,200
Wisconsin $29,970 $22,900 $40,180
Wyoming $31,230 $28,840 $46,720

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2021 median salary; projected job growth through 2031. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.